DVD Review - Date and Switch

Alan Yang wrote the screenplay for this movie. Yang was a writer for Parks and Recreation, so there's good comedic chops inherent here. It at times reads like a script from that very funny NBC series. The problem is that the two main characters are far from being likeable.

Nicholas Braun (Red State) stars as Michael, a tall and skinny, high school student who has an obsession with making a pot brownie. New actor Hunter Cope co-stars as Matty, a shorter and chubbier, high school student who admits to Michael that he's gay. Seeing the two friends deal with this revelation is the crux of the film, which would have been fine, if again the two main characters weren't so unlikeable.

The first thing is the way in which Michael and Matty break up with their girlfriends. They break up in seemingly non-compassionate or insensitive ways. One of which actually gets slapped for it. This doesn't help to endear us to these guys. Michael in general is just annoying, but Matty does something that really sinks his likeability.

Michael and Matty go to a gay bar. As they're leaving, they get into a fender-bender in the parking lot. The car they hit belongs to a hot-tempered guy named Greg, played by Zach Cregger (The Whitest Kids U'Know). They get into a bit of an argument and Greg trips Michael essentially pushing him to the ground, and Matty does nothing to help. Matty sees a stranger push his best friend to the ground and does nothing. I'm not saying Matty should have fought Greg, but Matty didn't lend Michael a hand to try to pick him off the ground or even ask if he was okay or anything.

Later, Matty starts to date Greg. Greg somewhat apologizes to Matty but he should have apologized to Michael before Matty even considered dating the guy. When Michael finally learns about this secret relationship, he confronts Matty with reasonable questions and concerns, and Matty's reaction is completely horrible. The movie then makes it so that it's up to Michael to make the first move and apologize to Matty.

It's funny because Larry Wilmore plays a gay teacher here. Wilmore recently took over the time-slot of Stephen Colbert this year. It's funny mainly because not only is Wilmore following in Colbert's footsteps on TV but Wilmore is also following in Colbert's footsteps in film. Colbert also played a gay teacher in Strangers With Candy (2005).

But, other than that, the sexual politics aren't all that well-handled. I'm all for breaking stereotypes of gay people, but this movie goes out of its way to reject and step on or mock anything effeminate. Matty even goes as far as sleeping with his ex-girlfriend Em, played by Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey), and there's no conversation about it. Matty is so desperate to not seem "gay" that he sleeps with a girl. Ridiculous! Matty also is surprised at how straight-acting Greg is. He asks Greg how he's gay.

There's an inherent assumption that if he's not acting effeminately or isn't interested in effeminate things or the club scene, then it's totally shocking as to how this guy could be gay, which is again ridiculous. It seems odd that someone that young coming in the wake of so much media and such Internet access would hold such an opinion or be so surprised. Brokeback Mountain alone shattered a lot of those stereotypes on a major scale.

There are tons of guest stars who had a lot of great humor. Someone like Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker) is not used to full potential. Geraghty plays Lars, the older brother of Michael. Lars is a 30-year-old who is trying to overshadow Michael's TV-theme-song, cover band by being in a high school, garage band too. Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation) has a weird one-off scene.

Top among the guest stars though is Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) who plays Michael's father. He's not in the movie much at all, but he does have a really great scene where he assumes that his son is gay when he's not. It's hilarious and by far the best scene in the film. It's great only by comparison. The rest of the film is so sub-par.

At one point, Matty complains that his life sucks and the moment is supposed to be somewhat sincere. Yet, there's no convincing context for his statement. He's not even dealing with any ostensible homophobia. He merely comes across as a whiny, privileged, white kid who's awful.

One Star out of Five.
Rated R crude dialogue, pervasive language, drug and alcohol use - all involving teens.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 31 mins.


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